Tuesday, September 22, 2009

World History vs Acorn 101

I have confessed to you that we are very relaxed in my home. Some people might even say that we are lazy. Well, my daughter must have agreed with "some people" because the other day she told me that she wanted to do real school with real text books and real tests. I told her that if that's what she wanted to do then we needed to do that.

Where else can a student become so academically bored that they become motivated to create their own schedule; their own course of study? I think it's important for a child to come to the conclusion that their education is their responsibility and it's important for that child to become self motivated and an autonomous learner...

Side note: Apparently, in the homeschool or unschool community, it is common for many students to take control and direct their learning at about the age of 11-13. This is the age when my first born also sat me down and told me how he wanted his school to look. Actually, he wanted it to look just like Crain Middle School, so I enrolled him. =D

My daughter and I sat down and talked about what subjects she wanted to learn. She said she wanted to learn the same subjects she would have to learn if she attended a public school: reading, writing, math, history, and science. When she decided on which subjects she wanted to include in her course of study we looked through our collection of various learning materials and programs so that she could choose the ones which would suit her. I have some courses on DVD, some courses and texts on computer, and even a few text books in MP3 format. Pick your poison!

After we decided on materials or approaches to each subject she created a weekly schedule. It reminded me of a college schedule and it was built around her already existing extra curricular activities. You know, "Thursdays are tennis and volleyball practice so I only want to read and write in my journal that day." She only wanted to do World History twice a week and Physical Science once a week.

Well today's schedule called for reading, writing, and World History. But, we weren't alone. Last night after her out-of-town volleyball game two of her teammates spent the night. I had told their mom that they could join us for school in the morning. We could all learn some world history together! I imagined each girl with iPod Touch in hand researching various historical figures, civilizations, regions... a little cooperative learning group in my living room. We had three times the research power in my house today!

However, we woke up to the most beautiful weather and that pushed school to the back burner. I feel bad that I didn't force World History but there was so much going on in our backyard! First off, it was cool and windy, eventually a cat caught a hummingbird and ate it in front of us, and the neighbor's tree was filling up the backyard with acorns.

I gave the children a bucket and begged them to collect them so we had a bucket full of acorns.

We were all lounging around on patio furniture or porch swings with our ipods when I asked the girls if they knew whether or not acorns were edible. I tweeted the question and then googled it. You know how you lose track of time when playing on the internet? By the time I found my answer the girls were inside.

The girls had done their own research and were in the process of tasting fried acorn that they had already boiled, peeled, and fried!

Well, I had read that acorns contain tannins which can be toxic so I had the girls bring me leaves from the oaks around the house. We used "Trees of Victoria" to identify the specific oaks so that I could get more information on the acorns we had just tasted. They tasted like nutty squash... and were not bitter at all.

Did you know that acorns were a staple to some native Americans? They would place the acorns in a basket in a river to cleanse them of the toxins. How did they know to do this without google? They were truly educated!

It just blows me away how every time we set out to learn about one thing we jump track and end up learning about something else. When we do that we are doing the opposite of school. We are learning from what life throws at us, in this case, acorns.

The beauty of learning in freedom - not having any time restrictions on when we "school" - is that it's not too late to watch our history DVD and maybe read some of "Pride and Prejudice" before bed. I'm pretty sure my daughter's schedule will be honored by midnight. ;)

Never mind, I know it will, because three girls just walked in and said, "Let's do school!"

Guess we are doing night school.

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